The Shins are an American indie rock band founded and fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, James Mercer. The Shins were formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but are now based in Portland, Oregon. The Shins began in 1996 as a side project for singer/songwriter James Mercer whose primary band was Flake Music in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mercer formed Flake Music in 1992 with Neal Langford on guitar, Phil Higgs and then Marty Crandall on bass, and Jesse Sandoval on drums. During the next 5 years Flake Music released several singles, a full-length album, and began touring largely due to the help of other bands like Modest Mouse.